Roxanne (Rocky) Pelligrino leaves behind her counseling job at a college and moves from Augusta, Maine, to Peak's Island in the wake of the sudden death of her husband Robert (Bob) Tilbe. She becomes the animal warden on the island and has taken in a big black Labrador retriever she has named Cooper to help her through this time.
One day a young woman named Natalie phones Rocky. Natalie claims that she is Bob's daughter. But what proof does she have? Is she Bob's daughter from an early indiscretion, or is Natalie mistaken? Or did Natalie's computer-hacker boyfriend forge documents?
Rocky hears Natalie's story and sees Natalie as a victim of the system; Natalie claims she has been through many bad foster homes - a story Rocky has heard too many times as a college counselor. But Melissa, a neighbor girl studying photography, believes she sees through Natalie's stories - or is Melissa simply jealous of Rocky's attentions toward Natalie? Even more, how well does Cooper take to Natalie, and Natalie to Cooper? (Dogs have better sense about people than people have about people sometimes.)
Not only did I want to keep reading to find the answers to these questions, I am most impressed with the author's use of imagery. Readers can hear that ferry whistle, feel that New England breeze, find themselves in the down-and-out places where Melissa is taking pictures for her portfolio. Readers even see (and smell, because his lack of personal care is brought up) Natalie's boyfriend. Even those who've never been to Maine can see and feel what's happening and are along on the thirty-minute ferry rides from Peak's Island to the mainland.
This is the second of Sheehan's works that I have read; I have also read Now & Then, and I find this novel even better than Now and Then.